The Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) has a special place in the hearts of Bangladeshis, as it is where Bangladesh took its first tentative steps in top flight cricket. It had faded a bit when cricket was transferred to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in 2005, but all the passion came roaring back as the revamped venue hosted the opening ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
For those who remembered going to the BNS to watch Bangladesh’s matches, the scene at the end of the opening ceremony might have seemed quite unfamiliar. All the spectators left with a smile on their face, which was a rarity pre-2005 as Bangladesh were bested in most of their matches here.
The smiles were brought about by the rousing scenes at the stadium during the ceremony. It was a triumph of Bangladeshi culture, with rickshaws bringing in the fourteen captains and LED kites flying about. There was also an airborne cricket match that wowed all and sundry. Acrobats rappelled down the nearby Bangladesh Development Bank Limited (BDDL) Bhaban and played vertical cricket, suspended from ropes and illuminated by LED bats and a virtual ball. Bangladesh’s proud history was presented beautifully with songs and scenes depicting the Language Movement of 1952 and the 1971 Liberation War.
Bir Protik Abdullah Hakim also enjoyed the programme, feeling honoured that he had been invited as a guest on such an auspicious occasion.
“It was a fantastic show,” said an elderly gentleman on the way out of the stadium. “My favourite part was the Sri Lankan segment; it was beautifully choreographed.”
A couple who were taking photographs of each other in front of the big bowl, were visibly elated by the event. “It was definitely beyond expectations,” the man said. “I loved how the show held upheld the patriotism of Bangladeshis.”
The lady echoed his sentiments: “My favourite part was the flying cricket and also the projection of Bangabandhu’s famous speech on the BDBL Bhaban. That was a moment of pride.”
Faruque, an employee of Nestle, said, “It was good, but if Mumtaz, Sabina Yasmin and Runa Laila had sung the songs in their total form instead of just small parts it would have been better. Also, the show was diminished by the lip syncing of these superstars. On the other hand, Bryan Adams’s live music was a definite highlight.”
Naveed, Abid, Fahed — three cousins who had come to watch the festivities from Shegun Bagicha were enthralled by the choreography, outstanding performance by Canadain pop star Bryan Adams, fireworks and hailed it as an overall excellent event.
According to Fahed, the opening ceremony was close to events like the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics or the Ghuangzhou Asian Games.
All, however, was not positive. Mismanagement reared its ugly head once again as the public had to go through a lot of hardship while entering the venue. Shantinarayan Ghosh, the treasurer of Open University, felt that the ordeal when entering the venue was the only minus point of the whole night. “The opening ceremony was good, but the police stationed at the entry points behaved badly and took everything we were carrying like water, food, etc. We suffered because of that as the food inside was exorbitantly priced.”
“I bought tickets for the International Enclosure worth Tk. 10,000, but when I eventually made it inside the arena, I was told that all the seats were full and I had to watch the event from the gallery, the tickets of which are priced at Tk. 1000,” said banker Shareq Hossain, who had tried to enter the ground at 5pm, but was delayed because the gates were closed as a security measure for the prime minister’s arrival.